Labor Day Painting Sale & Life Update

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This may be the longest it’s ever been since my last update. I’ve been trying to plan better and be more consistent in my business and in life but, as they often do, unforeseen obstacles have gotten in the way.

I guess it’s finally time to admit that our relocation has been more of a nightmare than an adventure. I tried to be optimistic and make the best of it, and I’m not saying I haven’t enjoyed certain aspects of life in this area, but “normal moving stress” and obnoxious neighbors gave way to a series of disappointments, specifically a lack of business and personal connections, and finally what I consider betrayal from our friends/Joe’s business partner who we followed here.

This is probably not the place to go into detail, so suffice it to say that they behaved with incredible selfishness and unprofessionalism and, intentionally or not, did a lot of damage to our lives and the gym. And in the end, they weren’t the ones to stick around and deal with it. It’s hard to explain in such vague terms without sounding like I’m being petty, but I’ don’t want to start drama, I just feel the need to share what’s been going on in order to move forward.

It didn’t help that I was, and still am, trying to manage recurring major depression with basically no support system. I think the hardest part was losing faith in myself and other people, because the red flags were all there. We knew better. But whether out of goodwill or desperation, we gave the benefit of the doubt anyway. Either way, it’s shocking to be treated like nothing more than a means to an end by people who said they cared. At least I’ve learned that my instincts are usually right, if I would just listen to them.

As all of this was coming to an end, Joe found out with about a month’s notice that he’d be deploying for the fourth time. We knew this was a possibility and I was honestly never sold on living here, so my backup plan was – surprise! – temporarily moving to Asheville, where I hope the plentiful art, good food, nice people, and beautiful mountains will remind me what it feels like to enjoy life.

You may remember I’ve tried this before, and maybe I’m being stupid, but logistically it’s more realistic this time. We’re just renting and we want to move closer to town anyway, so in between, I’ll put most of our stuff in storage and find a small place for me and the cats.

My online inventory may change a bit as I try to take advantage of local shows, galleries, and other activities, but I plan to keep my shop running and updated. Maybe I’ll even blog and make YouTube videos again! Either way, I’m sure there will be plenty of inspiration for new projects.

So on that note, I’m participating in Etsy’s Labor Day sale with 30% off all paintings in My Shop, including minis, magnets, and ornaments, to try to reduce some of my larger/more damageable stock before I have to pack it. It runs from the August 30th to September 3rd with a preview today.

If you’ve read this far, I want you to know that even though I’ve fallen behind with certain things, it has meant the world to me to have my business and its growing support network to focus on through these struggles. I may have largely gone without friends or opportunities in person, but at least there’s the Internet, right? So thank you guys and I hope you’ll stick with me and see what’s next in the coming months!

Thoughts on Color Theory and Being Yourself

I finally got a chance to buy Polymer Clay Color Inspirations by Lindly Haunani and Maggie Maggio, a book I’ve had my eye on for a while, and so far I am not at all disappointed.

The book is about color theory, color mixing, and choosing colors for a project. I’m actually pretty good at the mixing part; making decisions is where it gets tricky for me. In addition to both of those issues, the book includes some very interesting information on how we relate to different colors for different reasons. 

It also contains some exercises. I skipped ahead to one where you mix each of six basic colors with a little of each of the colors next to it and a little of each of white, gray, and black. It shows how some colors change more than others due to pigment strength.


I really enjoyed seeing all the variations together, and knowing I’d have a reference point for future projects. But I was a little disappointed when I got to yellow, one of my favorite colors. Most of the finished palettes were essentially 12 different versions of the original color. But the yellow ended up turning mostly orange, green, and brown. 

Suddenly I felt like I could really relate to the color yellow. It’s not any less awesome than the other colors, but gets overpowered by them anyway.

I’ve been going through some personal stuff that has really driven home the feelings of worthlessness that can come with living as an artist with depression. I’m not saying I want a different life, but I do get tired of being dismissed by people because my problems aren’t as visible as theirs and my priorities are somehow less important. 

That being said, I’m also trying to stop being a pushover. Making your own decisions means you can’t please everyone. I still consider other people, but I actually think you can do that better if you take care of yourself first. 

It seems we’re all a little bit like colors. Those around us can bring out the beauty in us, or they can turn us into things we’re not. We can lose ourselves in other people’s needs and expectations. 

So if you can relate to yellow, too, I hope you will give yourself permission to prioritize what you want and believe in. After all, it’s your life.

New Year Goals

So I’ll be honest, I’ve never been much of a New Year’s resolution person. It seems like they’re usually unrealistic, and I don’t think the date on the calendar makes everything suddenly change (sorry if I’m stepping on any toes). But I do think it’s a great time for evaluating your life and setting goals. 

My husband and I have been spending some time discussing those goals. Joe decided to share his by going live on Facebook, whereas I’m more of a writer than a speaker. Either way, making a record of your goals can make them more effective. Sharing them does the same and can also encourage others.

So I’m going to briefly share some of my goals for the year here, starting with my business goals. 

1. Making $5000 in sales. I’m somewhere in between those who just started selling their crafts and those who actually make a living, so this number might sound like a lot or not much at all. For me, it’s a good balance of ambitious and attainable, and that motivates me. 

2. Finishing one painting every month (and hopefully selling one a month too). My focus has been on jewelry because it’s easier for me to make and sell. I love it, but I also love painting too much to keep neglecting it, however unrealistic it may be. There is something sort of tragic about seeing beauty all around you and not doing anything with it, or doing something and not being able to share it.

3. Speaking of jewelry, I want to narrow down my products to things I enjoy making and my fans enjoy buying. Because really, what’s the point of making a bunch of stuff that’s just one or the other?  I’ve always had a hard time with making up my mind, but I plan to work on getting more feedback, too. 

And now for the personal stuff (but not too personal at the moment).

1. Connecting with and supporting my husband. Our transition to civilian life has been challenging, financially and otherwise, but I’m finally starting to feel like our life is our own, and we’re in it together. I love that our passion for our businesses, however different, is something we can share. So it’s a great time to reconnect and figure out how best to help each other. 

2. Exploring the local area and/or meeting people. I am honestly pretty okay with spending most of my time at home, alone, working or relaxing. Especially having spent the last several years in a place that was very limited in terms of things I wanted to experience or get involved in, and people I could actually connect with. But having relocated, I might be ready to make an effort.

3. Adjusting my schedule. I kind of hate talking about this one. I love my (extreme) night owl life for getting creative work done in those silent, magical midnight hours, but things like errands and plans would be a lot easier if I had just a little bit more daylight.

So I guess that’s it for now. I may not be expecting a miracle year, but I hope I can make the most of it and work toward what’s important to me, and I wish the same for you! 

Do you have some professional or personal goals to work on this year? Leave a comment! 

A Quiet Christmas for Two

I figured I should go ahead and write about last Christmas before this Christmas gets here – my final “late holiday post.”

The holidays can be magical but they can also be stressful. I think as adults, most of us have fond memories of childhood holidays, but we can also feel a lot of pressure in celebrating them now, whether it’s due to our own expectations or those of others.

In the eight years Joe and I have known each other, six of them married, we’ve spent a lot of special occasions either separated or traveling, due to military life and wanting to spend time with our families.

December is also an extra busy month for us, as I’ve probably mentioned. I get a lot of orders, especially custom work, and we also have a birthday, anniversary, and of course Christmas.

So last year, as weird as it might sound, we decided to spend Christmas at home, just the two of us. I made a simple but festive meal for two, and we decorated gingerbread houses, exchanged modest gifts, and took pictures with our little tree and our big cat.

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It may not have been exciting but it was relaxing, and I think it was good for us. I used to think we’d start building our own traditions once we had kids, but I want that for us too, because two is still a family.

So I don’t have any recipes or projects to share this time, but I wanted to share anyway, and I hope everyone can find their own way to enjoy the holidays. 

Moving Again: North Carolina to Tennessee 

After about 8 years of service, my husband is getting out of the army. So after almost 6 years of marriage, we finally had the chance to choose where to live.

Of all the places we could have gone, we spent our entire military life at Fort Bragg. And while North Carolina is a beautiful state, Fayetteville was not a good fit for us.

People dislike it for a lot of reasons (and again I mean no offense to those who do like it) but most importantly for me, I found very few things going on that I wanted to get involved in – specifically opportunities for my business – and very few people who shared what I care about. I really did go there with optimism and try to make the best of it, and while I appreciate the people who supported us and will miss the things I did find joy and inspiration in, I spent a lot of time pretty unhappy.

Meanwhile for my husband, Army life was not really what he expected, and the gym he started didn’t exactly go as planned either. He did have a bit of an easier time making friends but overall didn’t enjoy the area much more than I did.

So when another couple presented an opportunity with a new gym in their home state of Tennessee, Joe was interested and I was skeptical. Our discussions went in circles so we finally visited.

I found basically nothing I was looking for in the area we were looking at, but somehow went home with thoughts of creating my own opportunities, something I never felt like I could do before while being so overwhelmed by my surroundings. For Joe, it made sense, with the gym, a National Guard position, and college classes. For me, it would be an adventure, and there’s at least a part of me that doesn’t mind that once in a while.

We were able to find a house through the aforementioned friends and, a few weeks after making a decision, here we are in Watertown. Moving has been a bit of a nightmare (isn’t it always?) and we are certainly still adjusting. I’m not in love with the annoying rooster next door, the limited internet access, or the half hour drive to my favorite craft store. But I don’t mind solitude, the mini horse down the street, lots of trees, and as always, the beautiful sky.

I do have my studio set up again, and will be checking out local possibilities and of course running my shops. I hope to either find new inspiration or finally get bored enough to catch up on all the ideas already in my head!

Thanks for sharing in my creative journey and I hope you will enjoy whatever I come up with next!

P.S. Subscribers, if your email was messed up I apologize, my finger got over-eager while I was still composing!

My Brother’s Cake Toppers & Our Trip to CA

Joe and I finally took another trip to California since we hadn’t seen our families in almost three years and my big brother was getting married.

It’s a little weird visiting home when your life has changed so much in a few years that you don’t know whether to feel more out of place where you live or where you’re from.

But this trip wasn’t quite as exhausting as usual because we didn’t try to do everything and see everyone, which allowed us to enjoy the time with our families and relax a little in between. I even brought drawing supplies and actually used them – only on the plane, but still. 

We didn’t really have time for sightseeing either but enjoyed some window shopping, hiking, and of course delicious food. 

I made these cake toppers for the wedding, inspired by some other ones my now sister-in-law liked, featuring the bride and groom and their two cats under a flower arch. They are wooden pegs decorated with paint and polymer clay.

  
I am now getting back to work and preparing for the holiday season so watch out for new items! 

Our First Cruise

  
I mentioned that Joe and I were going on vacation since he just got home from deployment. We decided on a cruise, something we’d never done that sounded like fun, and booked with Carnival to the Bahamas. It ended up being an interesting experience so I thought I’d share. 

First, some of the negatives. The ship, although it seemed like the Titanic to us, was on the smaller side and packed with people. It also turned out to be a bit of a party cruise, and since we’re basically forty-somethings in twenty-something bodies, day drinking and loud entertainment are not really our thing, LOL. We also didn’t expect to pay so much for pictures and drug store items (I had horrible dizziness from the ship moving, and got sunburned despite multiple applications of sunscreen because #palegirlproblems). 

But onto the positives. We got to spend some time together, meet some other couples, see beautiful and interesting places, and even ride horses in the ocean. The activities cost extra too, but the nice thing with a cruise is that your transportation, room, and food are already included. Some of the entertainment was also pretty good. Joe got to work out in the gym on board and I got to paint (carefully) in our room and see some art. On the way back we visited a friend in Florida and went to the butterfly exhibit at the museum. 

So if we went on another cruise we might pick a different ship/cruise line and pack differently. You’re supposed to bring nice clothes for the dining room but we went a little overboard just in case. Also we would probably bring movies because internet is ridiculously expensive and you can’t stream anything anyway. A little down time is nice with so much going on. 

I’m still trying to get back into my normal routine, but you can probably expect some vacation-inspired paintings when I get around to it. Until then, I hope this was interesting and maybe somewhat informative.

 
           

My (Solo) Trip to Asheville

So I finally took my trip to Asheville. Moving there for Joe’s whole deployment didn’t work out, but I saved enough for the 10 days I stayed in an extended stay hotel. It was surprisingly difficult to make that reservation and commit to leaving my cat and my responsibilities for even that long, but the latest Hobbit movie (in addition to shattering my heart forever) had me inspired to be adventurous. 

And it really was an adventure. Maybe it wouldn’t have been for most people, but it was for me. The first few days made me wonder if the whole thing was a huge mistake. I got lost on the 5-hour drive there, then arrived to find myself roomed underneath, apparently, a dinosaur who never slept. Then I noticed it was supposed to rain most of the week and kept having to put off my plans. 

But after a day of rest, I went out anyway, and it ended up being pretty amazing. Over the next week and a half I visited the quiet places and breathtaking views of the Blue Ridge Parkway, Botanical Gardens, Arboretum, and Biltmore Estate. I shopped, ate, and browsed art downtown, in the River Arts District, and at the Folk Art Center, and even got tips and encouragement from more experienced artists and crafters. I met friendly travelers who invited me to join their activities, including seeing the stars through telescopes.

I drove and walked all over the city. And once I’d worn myself out each day, I came back to my room to relax (with the help of earplugs, earmuffs, and headphones, lol) and work on some creative projects. 

So at the end of my trip, I was sad to put those mountains in my rear view mirror and trade galleries and studios for barber shops and boot cleaners, but I was ready to return to my own comfortable space – where I found new art supplies from my husband and a cat who was very happy to see me. 

I have a lot to catch up on and plenty of creative inspiration to use before it disappears.

And maybe I can’t be my vacation self forever, who wakes up early (ish) and does activities all day and is open to spontaneity. When you live with depression/anxiety, some days even simple chores or errands can be exhausting. But it’s nice to know that, under the right circumstances, I can be a fun and adventurous person. And maybe some of that will stay with me.

Here are a few of the many photos I took. Thanks for reading and keep an eye out for some new paintings!

Our Weekend in Asheville

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As I mentioned in my last post, Joe and I recently went to Asheville to spend the weekend together before he leaves for another deployment. Just in time for his birthday, our anniversary, and Christmas. If you’re going to tell me it’s part of the job, or it could be worse, trust me, I know. It still sucks.

It’s always nice to leave the constant stress of life in a military town, but I was especially excited to go to a place that is know for its art and artists. I only hoped it wouldn’t distract me from my limited time with him (but, in my defense, he did pick the location).

The five-hour drive didn’t leave us much time Friday night, but we spent Saturday checking out local studios and galleries, did glass-blowing together, and had a nice dinner out. Sunday we did some shopping, drove the Blue Ridge Parkway to take pictures, and then settled into our hotel room for pizza and Netflix. Monday we were going to see Lookout Mountain but we were tired and decided to head home.

I’m not sure if I was more distracted by all the fabulous art and beautiful scenery and strangers actually being nice, or the crushing realization that I probably wouldn’t be happy again for what seemed like a really long time.

Despite my initial optimism about Fayetteville, I’ve spent four years here and I still struggle to find people I connect with or things I enjoy. Don’t get me wrong, I love my husband, and I deal with a lot of things to be with him. But to be stuck here while he’s halfway around the world? Don’t even judge me for hating my life.

I know there are people who care, but living with depression is a little bit like being stuck at the bottom of a deep dark hole. It takes a rare kind of person to reach into that hole and try to understand enough to help. Most people, even with good intentions, will stand at the top trying to tell you how to get out, which only makes you feel worse because you can’t.

So I had the brilliant idea of moving to Asheville while he’s gone, taking a break from our busy life, and pursuing my art among other artists. Because it’s one thing that really helps me, but sometimes it makes me feel like an outcast.

Not sure if I can actually pull it off though. Things are a little complicated financially, with us owning a house in Fayetteville, Joe getting out of the Army soon, and both of us running businesses that are still getting off the ground (unlike my superhuman husband, I don’t think I could handle a “real” job at the same time. And we need to be smart and pay off some debts while we can).

Also, I realize changing my location won’t change everything in my life. But maybe all I need is a chance to do my own thing. I’ve never been on my own. I’ve been told I’m the kinda girl who knows who she is, but life is hard and maybe sometimes it makes me forget. Does that make any sense? I just hope the friends I do have will understand and be there when I get back.

So I’ve started a page {here} on GoFundMe where you can support my trip. Don’t feel obligated, I know everyone has their own life, stresses, and financial burdens. But if you’d like to support my art and help me deal with another deployment, that would be awesome. Or shop my Etsy {here} so at least I’m earning it!
If not, hopefully I can find a way – to go, or to be content where I am.

Day Trip to Southern Pines: Expectation vs Reality

My husband was away for a weekend ministry conference, which I didn’t go to because I find them socially and informationally overwhelming. But I thought hey, just because I’m spending the weekend alone, that doesn’t mean I have to stay home. So I planned a little day trip just for myself to check out some art galleries in the nearby town of Southern Pines.

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Above: the coffee shop marketplace and the stuff I bought there, the crepe restaurant and its food, and the gallery.

Expectation: a relaxing drive and a fabulous day of being in my element and pretending I don’t live in a black hole (again with the hating on Fayetteville, sorry, it’s just not a great fit for some of us).

Reality: take short cut through Ft. Bragg, where GPS doesn’t work – 30 seconds of open road, windows down, hair down, radio up, and then – take a wrong turn, get stuck in the sand, try to dig out, wait for friends with truck, continue to destination, walk past all the lovely shops that closed before I got there, get lost again with dead phone until I’m so tired of driving I’m actually happy to get back.

It reminded me of this show where all these people are abducted and stuck in this fake town where they’re part of some human experiment and they can’t leave and if they find a way out they end up back in the same place and they’re like “nooo” but they have no supplies and there’s nowhere else to go.

But I did enjoy the weird phenomenon of strangers actually being nice. In Fayetteville we have some super awesome friends who would pretty much help anyone with anything (my aversion to excessive social contact notwithstanding…seriously thanks guys) and then everyone else just mean mugs me for smiling at them in the grocery store to be nice.

Drive an hour away, and the random guy at the gas station sees me checking my car and reassures me that the fluid dripping out is just from the air conditioning. The lady at the awesome coffee-shop-slash-handmade-marketplace that’s actually still open is cleaning up from a crazy coffee machine mishap and we talk about our day and handmade business. The man who sees me wandering around town stops to help out and turns out to be the owner of the main gallery I’m looking. It’s closed for renovations I guess but he walks with me and tells me a good place to eat and asks about my work. The guy by the road tells me which way to get home.

I’m not sure if what you’re getting from this is that people are nice sometimes and things work out, or that I need serious help with navigation and probably other things too, LOL.

But hey, it was an adventure, as my husband called it, and now I know it only takes an hour to get to a place where I want to stay a while and I might have some creative opportunities (haven’t heard from the gallery near Myrtle Beach) and can enjoy the creativity of others.